SOCHI, Russia – Ilya Kovalchuk missed Russia’s final practice before the qualification round.
Russian hockey coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov told reporters Monday that the forward was resting and not injured.
Kovalchuk missed the final minutes of the second period in Sunday’s win over Slovakia after appearing to hurt his right ankle. He returned and played in the preliminary-round game, scoring in a shootout to seal a much-needed victory.
The fifth-seeded Russians will play 12th-seeded Norway on Tuesday, needing a win to advance to the quarterfinals on home ice.
Kovalchuk took his talents home to Russia last summer, walking away from $77 million and the 15-year contract he signed in 2010 with the New Jersey Devils. The 30-year-old Kovalchuk retired from the NHL to play for SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League.